It’s time to put down the pussy hats and pick up the pitchforks.

Signs at the Women's March Rally for Abortion Justice in Washington, DC.  Protesters demand the US g...

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5 people of color on the Supreme Court's leaked abortion ruling

In 1973, the Supreme Court made a landmark decision that ensured peoples’ rights to have abortions. Roe v. Wade has been under attack ever since, with Republicans ramping up their efforts in recent years through legislation like Texas’s infamous abortion ban. And soon, it will be even easier for states to pass such bans: A leak of a scathing Supreme Court opinion, first released by Politico and later confirmed as authentic by the Court, indicates that Roe will be overturned next month.

Most reporting about restricting abortion access has focused on Republicans. While they certainly led the charge, Democratic leadership has consistently dropped the ball. Under former President Barack Obama, Democrats had a chance to codify Roe — in fact, Obama promised Planned Parenthood in 2007 that the “first thing” he’d do as president was sign the Freedom of Choice Act. But as The Cut reported, in 2009, the then-president said it was not his “highest legislative priority.”

With this in mind, President Joe Biden’s response to the leak — in which he puts the onus on voters — is especially frustrating, and even more so for people of color. If Roe is overturned, communities of color would face some of the most severe repercussions. One study found that a national abortion ban would lead to a 21% rise in the number of overall pregnancy-related deaths; for Black women, it would be a 33% rise.

What else can be done now, though? Is it the time to reject voting altogether? Mic spoke to five people of color about the SCOTUS leak and how we can all help to protect reproductive agency overall.

These responses have been lightly edited for length and clarity.

Brianna Chandler (she/they), Missouri

Whitney Curtis

I’m a 21 year old student at Washington University in Saint Louis. I primarily organize around Climate Justice and abolition.

Upon seeing yesterday’s SCOTUS leak, I immediately wanted to take to the streets. My mind flooded with recent headlines about anti-trans legislation, anti-CRT legislation, and the “Don’t Say Gay” bills. Time and time again, we watch those in power not only debate our autonomy but erode it. We desperately need to disrupt the narrative that having Democrats in power is the ultimate key to preserving our rights. In a country built upon settler colonialism and patriarchy, the government will ultimately maintain the repressive status quo unless met with substantial resistance.

I also thought of Sister Song’s definition of Reproductive Justice: “The human right to maintain personal bodily autonomy, have children, not have children, and parent the children we have in safe and sustainable communities.” Abortion access is the bare minimum, this fight is about so much more.

Furthermore, the economic implications of forced pregnancies will further entrench gender inequality. Many have lamented the inadequacy of our healthcare and childcare systems to support mothers and other birth-givers. The system is not constructed to support the children and parents we already have. However, their objective is not to support, it’s to subjugate. Alongside controlling our bodies, forced pregnancies will replenish the dwindling labor-force as capitalism demands.

One of the biggest consequences I’ve considered is the extension of the surveillance state. From [the Counter Intelligence Program], to Ferguson, to the uprisings after the murder of George Floyd, we’ve seen how the police can and will strategically target Black organizers. When the state goes looking for people to investigate for abortion-related offenses, they will target our most vulnerable communities. Showing up for and centering Black, Brown, low-income, and queer people in our resistance will be of the utmost importance.

Organize. Find and uplift the people who have been doing this work. There is an abundance of untapped power in our communities. We clearly can’t rely on the government to protect us, so we must build networks of care and resistance. This means every last one of us needs to be pitching in with our time, money, and any other available resources. It’s time to put down the pussy hats and pick up the pitchforks. Ask yourself, “What am I willing to sacrifice?”

Logan Crews, a friend of mine at Trinity University, wrote a piece last September about the importance of trans-inclusivity in conversations about abortion access. He says, “We [trans and non-binary people] have fought our own fights for access to gender-affirming care, and the lunges made at our self-determination are absolutely connected to the recent abortion law... A majority cis, male, white, evangelical government is waging war on the bodies of women, trans people and all those who don’t conform to the gender binary. Ensuring that awareness surrounding abortion is inclusive will strengthen us when we fight back.” He reminds us how important it is that no one is left behind in this fight.

Rach Junard (she/they), Oregon

I was saddened [by the SCOTUS leak], of course, but not surprised. Abortion and reproductive [rights] activists and workers have been telling us for months to expect something like this.

We know that the people most in danger are poor and/or Black, Brown, nonbinary, and trans folks — because yes, every gender can get an abortion. There will be misinformation rampant about where to get safe abortions, and those who choose to perform abortions will be targeted more than ever.

Folks can donate to their local abortion fund, they can continue to educate themselves and their communities on the issues instead of letting hot takes live in an Instagram story or tweet. They can go to protests, both in person and digitally.

I'm a full spectrum doula, that means everything from pre-natal, birth, postpartum, and yes, abortions too. Being able to work with someone at any stage of pregnancy is something I will do, no questions asked. I would love for folks to understand that our liberation is tied up together. Though you may never need an abortion one day, know that none of us can get free while some suffer still. The fight for civil liberties shouldn't even be a fight, but here we are. Now, more than ever, community support and care is crucial for us to move forward . We have to work together.

Shenaaz Janmohamed (she/they), California

I’m the Executive Director of Queer Crescent based in the San Francisco Bay area. Queer Crescent imagines futures where LGBTQIA+ Muslims are building possibilities toward collective liberation. Our work is shaped by resisting gendered violence through cultural organizing, base-building, and defining Muslimness as an expansive and racialized identity.

We knew this was coming, but nothing can prepare you somatically for these moments. I feel it in my body — shallow breaths and hyper vigilance showing up as irritability, confusion, and numbness. Yet when we see the recent legislative assaults on trans kids and communities, [overturning] Roe is a continuation of the attacks on bodily autonomy that have been happening. This is collective punishment. And as a Muslim, this is hard timing as we’re on the heels of Eid celebrations.

The repealing of Roe, anti-trans regulation, anti-Muslim bans (“sharia laws”), and voting rights attacks are all ways to bolster white supremacy and the white cisheteropatriarchal state. Culturally, this represents weaponizing religion for political interest. Like the Taliban — but in the U.S. context, our jailers are suit-wearing, power yielding appointed politicians.

Make connections. Listen to trans leaders and organizers who have been warning us about what is happening — folks like Imara Jones from the Move to End Violence and organizations like Sister Song that teach us to understand bodily autonomy as expansive as untethered relationships to land, movement, and joy.

Nisa Ihsan Dang (she/they), Colorado

Honestly, I didn't have a reaction to the SCOTUS leak at first. With the steady erosion of our rights and civil liberties over the past decade, it's been challenging to know how to react in moments like this.

I was curious about the language of the opinion and what the justices based their decision on because — as I've learned through my research into voting rights over the past decade — language matters. Lawmakers will take every opportunity they can to interpret language that gives them even a little bit of leeway to enact their agendas, especially when those agendas involve the expansion of the surveillance state, the criminalization of identities and access, and a chance to exploit and abuse poor and working people in this country — especially [those] who are Black, Brown, and Indigenous.

Then, I was furious. I thought about all the big and little decisions that made Roe v. Wade necessary in the first place, and all the political calculations that had been used to make this moment — this maneuver — possible. I was also incredibly frustrated by the coverage I saw last night. There was so much focus on this as a single moment in our nation's history, so much focus on edge cases, and so much focus on blaming voters and non-voters alike. None of these tells the true story about what the end of Roe v. Wade might mean to our communities.

As I previously wrote, The United States' approach to reproductive healthcare policy in this country has always been guided by eugenics. Lawmakers in this country are obsessed with the idea that families need to look or function a certain way. They pair their genocidal politics with policies and practices that make access to comprehensive healthcare wildly inaccessible and criminally expensive. Overturning Roe v. Wade is just another step toward completely eroding our civil liberties. Not only will this grant all 50 states license to completely ban abortions, but it will also allow them to criminalize and otherwise punish poor Black and Brown people — because women aren't the only people who need access to abortions — for seeking life-affirming care.

That means that instead of defunding the police and putting money back into our communities, our public funds will go toward expanding police departments and their mandates, expanding the surveillance infrastructure that already exists, and rewarding militant fascists who threaten the lives of abortion providers, seekers, and activists every day. We are beyond "precedent."

This has been the course for our country for a while now, and the decision to overturn Roe v. Wade is just the latest in an onslaught of bad laws, policies, and decisions that make it dangerous to live in this country if you're anything other than white, cishetero, and affluent.

I have worked in politics now for about a decade. So I want to first say that there is a place for voting. Thirteen states have trigger bans in place, and yesterday we learned that the Republicans are poised to mount a national campaign to ban abortions in totality. These fights will absolutely be fought in the state legislatures, so if you are interested at all in supporting people in your communities who need access to care, do everything you can to take that fight to these chambers.

That goes beyond a simple vote every two or four years. It means plugging in to mutual aid groups in your community, doing research into and supporting abortion funds, and making life very uncomfortable for legislators who think your life is expendable and that your body belongs to them and the rule of law. Now is the time to defer to people who have been in the trenches on this issue for years and who have put their lives on the line to protect and secure our rights and civil liberties. They know best what's coming next.

The last thing I want to add here is that none of these policies or decisions happen in isolation. Everything is related: increases in rent, lack of affordable housing, low wages, increased criminalization of the choices we make day-to-day to live as our most authentic selves — practice vigilance and active solidarity.

Sahar Pirzada (she/her), California

I’m representing HEART, a national organization working to advance reproductive justice and uproot gendered violence by establishing choice and access for the most impacted Muslims.

With the breaking news of the SCOTUS leak, my heart sank before even reading it. As an advocate who has been preparing for this judgment since the December oral arguments, I already knew to expect the worst. In the midst of joyous Eid celebrations with my family, I held the simultaneous feeling of so much grief because I know how much this is going to impact our Muslim community members in ways they have yet to discover.

Although this is just a leaked judgment and we hold hope that the situation may change between now and when the judgment is officially released, this leak gave us a glimpse into the severity of the ruling. I shared with close family in hushed voices at Eid parties throughout the evening about the leak and was met with a lot of support. Being somebody who has experienced abortion myself, this isn’t just work; it impacts me on a personal level. I was grateful to have familial support to hold me through the difficulty of yesterday’s news.

The consequences of overturning Roe v. Wade would be dire. We know that nearly 1 in 4 people with uteruses are expected to get an abortion in their lifetime. 18 states have "trigger laws" to ban abortion or have pre-Roe abortion bans still in the books, and we can anticipate many more would go into effect following the release of this judgement. Those states offering safe and accessible abortions would now need additional resources and capacity as they would be managing the access needs of neighboring states that have bans in effect.

This will overwhelmingly impact Black and brown people with uteruses who already have a harder time seeking medical care, arranging for travel out of the state, and historically are the most surveilled by the state. It is so important to remember that medical surveillance and control of Black and brown bodies is not new, and this judgment would embolden and enable the state surveillance apparatus that much more. This ruling would not only disrupt our rights to bodily autonomy at the level of abortion, but in so many other aspects of our lives including with regards to marriage, access to contraception, and our general privacy.

As Muslims, we are all too familiar with our bodily autonomy and privacy being violated — and as Muslims, whether you have a uterus or not, it is imperative to take action to uphold our collective and communal rights. Reproductive justice has always been intersectional. Promoting reproductive justice also means dismantling Christian hegemony, racial capitalism, and heteropatriarchy.

[Right now, you can:]

  • Check in on your friends and family who have experienced abortion, miscarriage, or any kind of reproductive health challenge. This is the time for our communities to show each other Rahma (compassion) in our responses to this national news and be there on an emotional and spiritual level for those who are directly impacted. This is not the time to police peoples’ outrage or horror. Hold space for peoples’ valid feelings instead.
  • It is extremely important to resource the work right now — [including] your local abortion funds, the HEART reproductive justice fund, and clinics that are still open and functioning. This is just a draft of the ruling. Abortion nationally is still legal and services are still being provided, so we should direct resources to those on the frontlines.
  • Post about your support for abortion access on social media or uplift the calls to action from your local grassroots organizations. By reposting publicly, you let those who may already be in a situation or could be in one in the future know that you are there for them and they can rely on your communal support.
  • If you have experienced an abortion, you can share your story with the Queer Crescent Repro Justice Storytelling Project in a way that feels most comfortable to you.
  • Educate yourself through the HEART Resource Library, and watch the Women’s Mosque of America’s Khutbah on abortion. Once you educate yourself, be a resource for others in the community who raise questions or concerns. In order for true culture shifting to happen around this topic, we have to open up the space for difficult conversations while centering care for those who are directly impacted.

If you’re in the legal field or part of a Muslim-identifying or reproductive justice-focused organization, sign on to the open statement The Islamic Principle of Rahma: A Call for Reproductive Justice.